Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award

The International Literacy Association (ILA) Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award is to honor an outstanding doctoral student who focused their research in the reading field or who conducted related research with implications for reading. Summaries of winning dissertations are published in Reading Research Quarterly.

Dissertations in reading or related fields are eligible for the award. Studies may use any research approach (ethnographic, experimental, historical, survey, etc.). Each study is assessed in the light of this approach, the scholarly qualification of its report, and its significant contributions to knowledge within the reading field.

Sponsored by Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan


  • Opens week of November 15, 2020
  • Closes March 15, 2021
  • Applicants are notified of the results via email by the end of June 2021


Dissertations completed in any aspect of the field of reading or literacy between May 2019 and May 2020 and approved by the committee are eligible. A routine check is made with the home university of the applicant to protect all applicants, their universities, and ILA from false claims.

  • Applicants must have current ILA membership.
  • Application and monograph process must be completed and submitted by March 15, 2021.

To become an ILA member or renew your membership, please contact Customer Service at 800.336.7323 or 302.731.1600 or visit literacyworldwide.org/membership.

For more information, please review the ILA Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award Guidelines.

PROFILE: Do not include your name, institutional affiliation, or any other personal information that will identify you on any part of the proposal (other than the Profile section). The review process is conducted as a blind review.

* Required Information





The following materials should be uploaded as one document. Failure to upload all items will result in your application being unsubmitted.

1. Title Page

Provide a 150-word abstract. You should state, in nontechnical language, the purpose and major findings of your study. Please include the full title of your monograph.

2. Table of Contents

The Table of Contents for your monograph should list major divisions and headings in the monograph.

3. Dissertation Monograph

Submit a monograph based on your dissertation research using the following guidelines. The evaluation is made solely upon this monograph. Please include a short title of your monograph.

  • The main portion of the monograph should be no longer than 40 typewritten pages in length, double-spaced, using 12-point or larger type size. If the applicant requires additional space in which to present details of a research instrument or to elaborate on some other vital point, an appendix of up to three additional pages may be attached. The Abstract Page, Table of Contents, and the References are not included in the page count. Monographs that exceed the maximum length will not be accepted.

4. References

Prepare using a reference consistent with English bibliographic format, such as American Psychological Association (APA) 7th edition style. To accommodate the blind review process, your own publications should not be cited in a way that will identity you as the author—substitute your name for the word Author in the citations (e.g., Author, 2015), and delete all identifying titles in the references (e.g., Author, Coauthor, & Coauthor, 2015).



Review your submission carefully before you submit. You will not be able to update or edit your submission after you submit it. You will be informed if your application encountered any errors. After you submit, you will receive an email confirmation of your submission for this award.

The monographs will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Significance of Research Question
  • Theoretical Framework/Literature Review
  • Rationale for the Research
  • Appropriateness and Adequacy of the Methodology/Approach
  • Significance/Implications for Practice and Research
  • Clarity, Cohesion, and Specificity

Note: If you do not receive the email confirmation, or if you have any questions, please email ILAAwards@reading.org.